OSCE: Albania Lustration Law Unconstitutional

The OSCE has slammed a law presented by Albania’s centre-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, for the lustration of high administration figures as unconstitutional.

“The law breaches several articles of the [Albanian] constitution and an all-inclusive debate it’s necessary before its passed,” said Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe ambassador in Tirana, Robert Bosch.

Albania’s parliament postponed a vote on the lustration bill, which has come under harsh criticism by the US, the opposition and interest groups, on Monday to make way for new amendments.

The United States embassy in Tirana criticised the bill on Tuesday and asked for more debate with the assistance of international experts.

“We are encouraged with the postponement of the vote as an important step that will provide time for the measured reflection and open public debate necessary for a bill that raises serious constitutional and legal concerns,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We also strongly urge that further consideration of this draft law incorporate the views of international legal experts to ensure its full compliance with international standards,” the statement added.

The draft-law would dismiss from office judges and prosecutors that worked during Albania’s half-a-century-long period of communist rule, led by former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha.

The Albanian opposition has also slammed the law as unconstitutional and claims that the government is aiming to get rid of the prosecutors that are investigating high profile corruption cases.

“It’s sad that today, eighteen years after the end of Albania’s communist dictatorship, the Albanian Prime Minister wants to open the files of the communist dictatorship by closing those of the dictatorship of corruption,” said opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama in a press conference on Monday.

According to Rama, the bill is a projection of the war that the government has declared on the justice system. The bill does not provide for the dismissal of former high communist officials from public office.

“(Prime Minister) Sali Berisha wants to destroy the justice system by saving the people of his court from independent investigations,” Rama added.

Rama called on the government to seek more debate on the law and not pass it unilaterally.

However, Berisha had formerly declared that his Democratic Party-led majority would vote for the bill, with or without the opposition.

“We head to parliament determined to pass this law,” Berisha said during a cabinet meeting. Berisha himself served as a secretary of the communist party in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana and was one the trusted doctors of the former politburo.

The law also has come under harsh criticism from the association of prosecutors and judges. If the law would pass it would wipe out half of Albania’s Supreme Court. According to the opposition the law breaches twenty articles of the Albanian constitution and laws for the organization of the courts and the prosecution office.

“This law completely unconstitutional because judges’ work status is clearly defined by the constitution,” said the head of the Judges Association, Manjola Bejleri.

Experts argue that the drafting of the law is problematic because according to the Albanian constitution, to dismiss a supreme court judge, a simple majority is not enough, but two-thirds of parliamentary votes.

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